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About a minute later, the selkie swimming toward the both of you slows and comes to a stop in front of Moirine. You can tell from a glance at the selkie’s body that this one is female given the slender physique like Moirine’s (and yours), and you can also tell it’s a selkie due to the eyes – they are a human-like and a rather pale brown color. Her overall body is darker than Moirine’s and yours, too, with less spots, save for a smattering of smaller ones around her throat and trailing down to her pale underbelly.


‘Oh, Cahala, it’s you,’ Moirine remarks. ‘I wasn’t sure at first because you’re usually much more vocal at announcing yourself to me. Here to watch me coach the pup?’


‘Ah, sorry, Moirine,’ the new selkie, Cahala, replies.


She speaks with a deeper voice than Moirine, yet her voice to your ears – or mind… mind’s ears? – has what you can only define as a thicker Irish accent. In fact, you hadn’t even really noticed before, but, Moirine has an Irish-sounding accent, too, only softer.


‘I don’t mean to interrupt, but, there’s something of importance you need to know,’ the new selkie says, before she turns to regard you. She blinks once, then gazes at you for a beat. ‘You must be the human that was turned into a selkie by a djinn, aren’t you?’


You nod. ‘That’s me.’


‘Feh, a typical stinking djinn mucking about with their magic for petty reasons,’ she says with an internal scoff. ‘I’m Cahala, as Moirine just said, nice to meet you.’ She bows her head to you, and you do the same since it feels only right. ‘I saw the two of you visiting the Seamother earlier, and considered swimming up to introduce myself. But, I was dealing with another selkie in… what’s the phrase? In the same ship as you? Maybe?’


‘Oh, uh, yes, that’s close to it, if you mean in the same boat,’ you reply.


‘Aye, that’s the one,’ Cahala says. She shakes her head. ‘Regardless, while I’d love to have a nice chat, I’m afraid there’s a different reason for me coming here.’ Her expression darkens in a way that is all-too-human to see on someone that looks much like a seal in your eyes. ‘The Seamother asked me to come fetch the two of you and bring you both back to the Cayreeg, promptly if at all possible. There’s a… situation.’


‘A situation?’ you say, confused. ‘What kind of situation?’


Cahala nods her head back the way she came. ‘I can explain while we swim.’


You look to Moirine, who is frowning. ‘Very well, Cahala. Lead the way, love.’


The three of you begin to swim back the direction came from.


‘I don’t know the details in full,’ Cahala admits after a beat. ‘I only know that it seems to involve the very djinn that used his magics to transform you, pup, into a selkie.’


‘Oh,’ you say. ‘That’s, uh… worrying.’


‘Bah,’ Moirine says, snorting. ‘I wouldn’t worry too much. I doubt there’s some huge dilemma involving you or anything, pup. I know you mentioned you were a bit rash with the djinn, but we all have our arsehole days. Besides, a djinn ought to know better, and it’s not as if he hasn’t heard worse than whatever trivial response you gave him.’


‘I believe the issue is less to do with you directly,’ Cahala says, ‘and more to do with the very situation that you’re a part of. I’m sure you were told that djinn aren’t supposed to go around transforming humans into creatures or anything against the human’s will?’


‘Yes,’ you say.


Cahala gives a ‘hmm’ in response. ‘Good. That makes it a bit easier to explain.’


‘Explain what?’ you ask.


‘Moirine, did you or the Seamother tell this pup about the system?’ Cahala asks.


‘Briefly, yes,’ Moirine replies. ‘We touched on it for a moment, but not in-depth.’


You feel confused, but, you don’t object since it isn’t your place to just yet.


‘I will try to alleviate your confusion, pup,’ Cahala says to you. ‘Within our world, the one that is more often out of sight from normal humans, there are laws and rules that we adhere to. Any sort of trifling with those can result in trouble for us and for you humans, which is why we typically refrain from doing things like what occurred to you. Should we learn that another species or entity has chosen to go against these, it then becomes our… civic duty, I suppose, to confront the issue head on how we see fit to confront it.’


You soak in her words for a beat. ‘I think I understand. I remember someone mentioning how they’d deal with the genie that did this to me. Is that what you’re talking about?’


‘Aye,’ Cahala says.


‘Why would that scenario require the pup, though?’ Moirine asks. ‘They didn’t ask to be transformed into a selkie, nor wish for it, either. There’s no bond formed between them and the djinn as master and servant, which means that lousy djinn can’t use this one as an excuse for what happened. I fail to see why the Seamother needs to see us.’


‘Because the problem involving this djinn and their actions runs far, far deeper than that alone, apparently,’ Cahala replies matter-of-factly. ‘I’m sorry. The Seamother didn’t give me a full explanation, only asked that I get the two of you. More so the pup than you, Moirine, but, given their newness to being a selkie, she felt it would be beneficial for you to be present. You’ve taken the pup under your proverbial wing, after all.’


‘True,’ Moirine says.


You frown to yourself and wonder what the problem could be if it’s this serious. You don’t know enough about selkie society to hazard a guess – you have a basic (maybe) understanding of some things, but, even then, you can tell that there’s a whole lot more for you to learn in the grander scheme of things. From what you can gauge, this involves the djinn, but, why the Seamother would want to speak to you, you are unsure.


‘Did the Seamother go herself to speak to the djinn?’ Moirine asks.


‘She sent Fia in her stead,’ Cahala replies. Cahala glances at you for a heartbeat. ‘Fia is… a stewardess, you could say. She is one of the oldest selkie that serves as the voice for our Seamother, as a trusted advisor and all that, in case you are curious.’


‘I’m guessing she found out something from the djinn that caused this?’ you ask.


‘Aye, pup,’ Cahala replies. ‘That is indeed the case.’


You glance at Moirine, who meets your gaze – her expression seems to mirror the emotions you’re feeling of confusion and leeriness. For now, you swallow your nerves down, and, the three of you swim on, tracking back toward the eventual location where the Cayreeg is. When the three of you arrive in the area, Cahala comes to a stop so that she’s hovering near the entrance to the giant formation. Here, she turns back to you.


‘You may go in on your own if you wish, pup,’ Cahala says to you. ‘Or you may have Moirine join you, should you want.’ She pauses for a moment, then shrugs. ‘Hell, you can even have us both go with you. I’m rather curious to learn what the deal is. I know you’ve only just met me, but, I wanna know what the bloody djinn did that’s got our Seamother so flustered. Stinking djinn can’t be trusted, ‘least not ones like this one.’


‘…is the djinn down there?’ you ask.


Cahala laughs, her body shaking as bubbles erupt from her mouth. ‘Oho, no, no, no, my young friend, there’s no way a djinn would dare venture down into our domain. Plus, they’re typically kept locked up in whatever those silly things are called… a lamp, or something? Whatever.’ She rolls her eyes. ‘Point is, they can’t come down here without certain loopholes being exploited, and neither Fia nor the Seamother were about to go using those. Last thing we need is a djinn stinking up our ocean domain, for sure.’


‘In other words, you’re in no danger from dealing with him,’ Moirine says. She offers you a smile. ‘And even if he was there, you’d be safe from harm. The Seamother is a force to be reckoned with when push comes to shove, you can bet your ass on that, pup.’


‘Okay,’ you say, and you think it over. ‘What’s the best thing for me to do?’


‘The choice is yours, pup,’ Moirine says. ‘You shouldn’t keep the Seamother waiting for too long, though. Just on the principle of the matter, more than anything else, mind.’


You nod and look toward the Cayreeg. Do you want to go in alone? Do you want to have Moirine join you, since she would know more? Or do you want her and Cahala to come with you, since two selkie that have experience is better than one, right?



Written by Hollowpage on 11 May 2021

Both Something Wicked This Way Swims II

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